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we can do better than this
August 01, 2012
constitution that has finally been birthed - after an excruciating
of negotiation and compromise - is a poor specimen. People are
already taking positions for and against. We publish in this issue
a number of opinions, which we hope will generate informed debate.
is that, within the next few months, we will be asked to vote yes
or no on this document. If Zanu (PF) has its way, we will have to
vote for the Copac draft or a Zanu draft. If this is the case, we
urge the MDC to come up with its own draft - without all the
ghastly compromises that it has been forced to accept in the Copac
was a ceasefire document - and so is this Copac draft. In
no way can it be described as a major pillar in the democratic transformation
of Zimbabwe. But it is way ahead of the much-amended Lancaster House
for stronger institutions that will enable essential checks and
balances, especially on the Executive. These institutions include
capacitated to force greater accountability on the part of the presidency,
independent commissions and a national authority to coordinate prosecutions.
a mechanism specifically focusing on gender, with a view to bringing
about social, economic and political equity. For the women, this
will be in addition to provisions that will enable their increased
participation and presence in the legislature.
There is also
a marked improvement regarding the contentious issue of citizenship
- with the new charter bringing solace to hitherto ''stateless
citizens--. Even war veterans have a reason to smile,
as the new document directly recognises their contributions towards
national independence and seeks to ensure that their welfare is
Copac draft contains serious flaws - notably that it enshrines
racism. We are now officially a racist state where people of a certain
colour will be discriminated against on the basis of their skin
colour. In other words: reverse apartheid. This is, of course, unacceptable.
of property rights constitutes another serious flaw. Under the Copac
draft all those farmers who were dispossessed of their land, including
blacks, during the land "resettlement" programme will
have no recourse to law to seek compensation for or to get justice.
This is an abrogation of a fundamental human right.
We are convinced
that the majority of decent Zimbabweans will find this clause offensive.
In addition, the Copac draft does not sufficiently limit the powers
of the president. All this puts us in a very difficult position.
If we vote against the Copac draft we run the risk of Zanu (PF)
claiming victory for their constitution. Analysts argue that if
we reject it we run the risk of going back to the darkest days of
Zanu (PF) dictatorship.
Those in favour
of a "yes" vote argue that the Copac draft will lead
to free and fair elections, and once a government that truly represents
the people is in power, it can fix the areas of contention. But
for many, this may be a leap of faith too far.
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